Monday 23 October 2017

Fitzgerald is taking nothing for granted but outlook is good

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball

Brendan Furlong
Brendan Furlong

The competition for places in the Wexford Senior hurling squad will be ramped up even further when the long-term injured players return.

The present squad is in flying form but there are still some serious challenges ahead which manager Davy Fitzgerald and his backroom team are determined to meet head on.

Wexford's form in their opening two victories over Limerick and Galway was outstanding, recording two victories which leaves promotion in their own hands, not reliant on any other side or results going their way.

For too long Wexford had been the poor relations in the battle for promotion from Division 1B, but the former Clare supremo has cast all of this to one side, juggling the talent at his disposal and achieving marvellous success in the process.

On paper looking in from the outside, this should be promotion year but Davy is taking nothing for granted, plotting no further than the Offaly challenge next Sunday.

He will be targeting an improved performance from the one witnessed against Kerry. They had targeted the two opening round games which were huge encounters, leading Wexford to produce rare wins, so the Kerry game was always going to pose a different type of challenge.

Wexford had not beaten Limerick for some time, and never achieved victory on Salthill soil. But with those two wins behind them, many felt that Kerry was going to be a bonus game.

Davy was smart and experienced enough not to see Wexford fall into any trap. For the players this was a game that could have provided a reality check.

As a general rule Wexford tend to take their foot off the pedal when playing such opposition, but hurling will always reward the more skilful side, and this was very evident at Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday.

A serious element to the Wexford game is the increase in their physical fitness. It's something that Davy and his backroom team have worked on because it has become such an important part of our game.

Wexford hurling has been well dissected over the past five weeks. Many felt that the Kerry display may have taken a bit of wind out of the sails, but the sound of the bandwagon crashing is pathetic.

Supporters need to be realistic. Wexford may not have shone like in the games against Limerick and Galway, but they dealt comfortably with what was put in front of them.

Wexford have been incredibly consistent since Davy arrived at the helm, both in the Walsh Cup and National League. In January had anyone said Wexford would have six points from their opening three games and promotion in their own hands, few would have taken the odds no matter how attractive.

Wexford may not have been happy with aspects of their game, but once they upped the ante in the second-half there was only one team in it. Really, had they put their four first-half goals chances away the Kerry challenge would have been dismissed by the interval.

The style of hurling of sides like Kerry makes it difficult. This is a similar style the team will face with Offaly as their opponents on Sunday. There was always a lot of talent in the Wexford set-up. But the fact that Davy Fitzgerald is creating the culture of winning has transformed hurling in the county.

Wexford are getting better with each game, settling into the new style of hurling and how they play the game, but the real test is whether they can sustain a higher level of intensity when the challenges become more testing over the coming months.

 On the football front it's marvellous to see 'Banty' and his squad continue their march towards promotion, with four wins from four games. The transformation has been remarkable and brought a whole new life to Wexford football.

I've been keeping a watch on Wicklow hurlers where Rathnure's Seamus Murphy is steering them towards promotion. Last Sunday's victory in Derry was a huge one for Seamus and his squad.

Seamus is already much loved in the Garden county for his achievements with Glenealy and now the Senior hurlers.

Just to end on a sad note, condolences to St. Martin's clubman, Jimmy Dempsey, on the passing of his wife, Mary. Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam.

Wexford People

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